‘Today, India Is The Third Largest Market For Us’: IIH Interview With Alstom India Chief Olivier Loison


With India as a growing market, both for mainline railways and urban rail-based mobility, Alstom has been at the forefront of introducing several breakthrough technologies in India with world class rolling stock, rail equipment and infrastructure, signalling and services.

Alstom India Managing Director, Olivier Loison speaks to Swarajya about its various rail projects and potential of Indian market.

Excerpts from the interview

Q. What is your footprint in India?

A: Alstom has played a part in the progress of the Indian Railways for almost 100 years. We have established an extensive footprint in India — six manufacturing facilities, five engineering centres across the country, and over 12,000 employees across sites.

Over the years, we have delivered global transformations by leveraging our global footprint and our expertise in delivering large railway and urban transport projects in India.

Today, Alstom is the only multinational sustainable mobility provider in India, to have a comprehensive portfolio of offerings to meet customer specific needs, from cost-efficient mass-market platforms to high-end technological innovations.

We remain committed to supporting India’s transition to more innovative, sustainable, and accessible mobility systems.

Q. What are your major projects in India?

A: We have extensive presence in the urban metro projects and are actively supporting India’s freight revolution and passenger movement.

Alstom India has a history of successfully delivering world-class metro trains for major cities, including Delhi, Chennai, Mumbai, Lucknow, Kochi in India and internationally for Sydney, Queensland, and Montreal.

Some of our key ongoing projects in India are:

Kanpur-Agra Metro: Alstom has been awarded the contract to design, build and deliver 201 metro cars (67 units of MOVIA metro three-car trainsets) and advanced signalling solution (CITYFLO 650) for Kanpur and Agra metro project.

Bhopal-Indore Metro: Alstom will design, manufacture, supply, instal, test, and commission 156 Movia metro cars with 15 years of comprehensive maintenance. This includes installation of the latest generation of communications-based train control (CBTC) signalling system as well as train control and telecommunication systems; each with seven years of comprehensive maintenance.

Pune Metro Line-3: Consortium with Tata and Siemens; 66 metro cars (22 trainsets)

Delhi Metro-MRTS: Alstom will design, manufacture, supply, install, test, and commission train-control and signalling solution for Delhi MRTS Phase-IV project.

Mumbai metro: Alstom is manufacturing 31 passenger trainsets of eight cars each along with installation of the latest CBTC signalling system, telecommunications, and power supply for Mumbai Metro Line-3.

Eloco project: Alstom has delivered 300 electric locomotives as a part of a contract to designing and manufacture 800 fully electric high-powered double-section locomotives of 12,000 HP for freight services.

Regional Rapid Transit System (RRTS): The regional commuter and transit semi high-speed trains for the soon to be inaugurated Delhi-Ghaziabad-Meerut RRTS line have been built by Alstom.

It will also bring a combination of the latest ETCS hybrid level-3 supported by the latest digital Interlocking and automatic train operation over long term evolution, in the future to further increase in network performance and capacity.

Q. What are your key projects in Indian Railways?

A: Alstom has been associated with India’s progress for over 100 years and have been a strategic partner in supporting India’s freight revolution and passenger movement.

Some of the key projects that Alstom has contributed towards are:

As a part of a landmark contract signed in 2015, Alstom is designing, manufacturing, and delivering 800 fully electric high-powered double-section locomotives of 12,000 HP (9 MW) for freight service.

Built under the largest foreign direct investment or the railways sector, we delivered 310 such e-locos so far.

This joint venture with Indian Railways is one of the biggest testimonials to the ‘Make-in-India’ initiative as these locomotives are being indigenously manufactured at a world-class manufacturing facility setup in Madhepura.

It is also a success story for the public-private-partnership model as the supervisors, at the two ultramodern state-of-the-art maintenance depots built at Saharanpur and Nagpur, are from Alstom with technicians from Indian Railways.

We have engineered and delivered the electrification, signalling and telecommunications for the 351-km stretch between Bhaupur and Khurja of the Eastern-dedicated freight corridor (DFC), as an integrated system. This was the first fully electrified section of DFC completed by Alstom in record time.

Alstom has also built a state-of-the-art operation control centre in Prayagraj, which is the nerve centre of the Eastern-DFC, monitoring operations across the entire corridor.

Alstom is the OEM and pioneer in launching IGBT based three-phase propulsion for high horsepower locos manufactured by Indian Railways.

With a highly reliable product, we are uniquely placed to remain a key player in the third-party equipment sales to Indian Railways, including the aftermarket annual maintenance contracts arising out of these sales.

Our Maneja site has been supplying propulsion equipment to Indian Railways for locomotives and EMUs for over two decades. Following the successful delivery of propulsion and electricals for the Mumbai Vikas Railway Corporation-II EMU project, we have reliable products catering to the EMU/MEMU market (rolling stock manufactured by Indian Railways).

Given our continued engagement with the Railways, we are well-positioned and eager to work with them in a several areas, including rolling stock, signalling and telecom, and services.

Q. What is your vision for India in terms of infrastructure and rolling stock?

A: India is a growing market, both for mainline railways and urban rail-based mobility. The Prime Minister’s Gati Shakti initiative is focusing on rail-based logistics to reduce India’s carbon emissions and lower logistics costs. It is expected to bring down the logistics cost to 8 per cent of the country’s GDP, from 14 per cent.

More cities and urban agglomerations are looking to adopt metro railways and regional high-speed networks to reduce dependence on personal transport.

Today, around 810 km of metro lines are operational in 20 cities, with over 980 km of the metro network currently under construction in 27 cities.

We are excited at these developments, as they represent a great opportunity for Alstom. Supporting the government’s modernisation initiatives, Alstom has been at the forefront of introducing several breakthrough technologies in India with world class rolling stock, rail equipment and infrastructure, signalling and services.

Fully-aligned with the country’s vision of Make-in-India and Aatmanirbhar Bharat, Alstom remains deeply committed to strengthening its local sourcing and supply chain ecosystem.

With our extensive India footprint, we’re looking forward to not only cater to domestic project needs, but also deliver many international projects.

Q. What type of technology are you bringing in Vande Bharat train?

A: Vande Bharat train demands many technologically advanced features which will be introduced for the first time in India. These trains will be state-of-the-art high speed trains with operational speed of 200 kmph and design speed of 220 kmph, making it fastest broad-gauge trains in India.

These trains will have aluminium car body technology, first time for broad-gauge trains in India. These trains will be lighter in weight resulting in lower energy consumption and less wear and tear of tracks.

Besides, these trains will be built on international standards for improved safety, reliability and passenger comfort. These trains will be aesthetically modern for both, interior and exterior design. It will have internet on board and have inbuilt cyber security system.

Q. After Bombardier merger with Alstom, you have become a dominant player. Your comment?

A: Following the successful acquisition of Bombardier Transportation, Alstom has established itself as a global leader in smart and sustainable mobility.

This acquisition has expanded our presence and offerings in all geographies, and we have integrated our solutions and assets to better serve our customers.

Alstom sees great potential in India, where the government is championing the development of modern, rail-based mass mobility solutions. We can combine our global expertise with our strong experience in India, to provide tailor made solutions for the needs of this rapidly growing country.

Q. What are your new investments?

A: Alstom has an order backlog of over €4.2 billion from its India operations. Today, India is the third largest market for us, after France and Germany.

We have witnessed remarkable growth in India, backed by the buoyant urban market and the strong and promising relationship with Indian Railways. Our turnover is up by 45 per cent as of March 2023, compared to the last financial year.

Alstom has already invested over 200 million euros in the country and are planning to invest further to bolstering our manufacturing capacity. Additionally, there is tremendous potential for export.

More than 25 per cent of engineering done in Alstom has been in India, we are looking to increase to 33 per cent that will lead to one-third of the entire engineering activities of Alstom being done in India. We are also setting up signalling lab in Bangalore towards further strengthening our capabilities in this domain.

Q. How can Alstom contribute to enhancing safety and avoiding Balasore type incidents?

A: The Orissa train incident is very unfortunate, our prayers are with the victims and their families. It is a bitter reminder about the importance of safety and signalling systems in railway.

Safety was and continues to be the rail industry’s first priority. There is already a huge investment plan by the government to deploy signalling systems throughout the country. It is also an area where there is a need for constant innovation and improvement.

We are committed to working with our customers in developing, providing, and maintaining products, systems, applications, and services that uphold the highest standards of quality and safety.